PLF 2024 Amendment Sparks Civil Society Concerns

Friday, October 13, an amendment to the finance bill was adopted in the finance committee of the National Assembly: the latter, drafted by the FNSEA and taken up in different forms by deputies from the right, the far right and the majority, aims to suspend tax advantages to any organization appealing to the generosity of the public [1] for donations, payments and legacies when they are convicted of certain criminal offenses. It expands the list of these offenses, adding, among others, defamation, provocation to the commission of crimes, occupying land belonging to others or even damage to property.

Environmental, citizen and peasant associations [2] strongly denounce this amendment which, if it were definitively adopted and implemented, would hit hard the organizations which denounce the abuses of our agricultural and industrial system, via the press or actions of resolutely non-violent civil disobedience. This amendment dangerously extends the list of offenses that can eliminate tax benefits, thus characterizing a violation of freedoms of association and expression. The associations ask the government to do everything possible to ensure that this measure is rejected, including if the text of the Finance Bill were to be adopted with the use of 49.3.

While the climate crisis particularly impacts the agricultural sector, which must urgently transform, this amendment wants to deprive certain actors, essential to the democratic debate, of their ability to act as whistleblowers. Actions of public denunciation and civil disobedience, like numerous actions by whistleblowers, have enabled numerous advances in lifting the veil on animal suffering in certain slaughterhouses and certain agricultural operations, on the environmental impacts of an agricultural system industrial, or even on fraudulent practices in the agri-food system. More generally, this text, if applied, would affect all civil society organizations, well beyond those working on agricultural and food issues.

Faced with this new attempt at intimidation of civil society, organizations will continue to tirelessly defend freedom of opinion and demonstration, so essential in the face of the trials we are going through and for democracy, and to alert citizens on these security abuses.

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